The officially recognised Indigenous population of Taiwan numbers 571,816 people (2019), or 2.42% of the total population. Sixteen distinct Indigenous Peoples are officially recognised. In addition, there are at least 10 Pingpu Indigenous Peoples who are denied official recognition. Most of Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples originally lived in the central mountains, on the east coast and in the south.
There are 16 officially recognized indigenous peoples in Taiwan. This number excludes the indigenous peoples of Pingpu, whom the Government denies official recognition. Since Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, it has not been able to officially vote on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples or to ratify ILO Convention 169.
At the national level, the Government of Taiwan recognized certain rights of indigenous peoples through the Fundamental Law of Indigenous Peoples (2005), the Education for Indigenous Peoples Law (2004), the State Law for Indigenous Peoples ( 2001) and the Regulation Recognition of Indigenous Peoples (2002).
Indigenous peoples in Taiwan
The indigenous population in Taiwan represents 559,036 people or 2.37% of the national population, and they are part of 16 officially recognized indigenous groups. However, the figure excludes the ten indigenous peoples of Pingpu ("low plains"), which number around 400,000, who are denied official recognition.
The indigenous peoples of Taiwan face the erosion of traditional cultures and languages under the pressure of assimilation of the main society, and due to the policy imposed by the state to use Mandarin Chinese. The government ministry known as the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP), created in 1996, works to protect the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples.
Since 1996, the ministry known as the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) works to protect the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples. In addition, the Constitution of Taiwan guarantees political representation for indigenous peoples, with eight current indigenous legislators of 113 seats (7%) in the national parliament, and indigenous representation is also guaranteed at the local government level for the six main cities and Many municipal councils. Indigenous peoples operate and operate the Indigenous Television of Taiwan (TITV) and several radio stations under the national network of public media.
Main challenges for the indigenous peoples of Taiwan
One of the main struggles of the indigenous peoples in Taiwan is the constant denial of recognition of the indigenous status to the Pingpu ethnic groups, ten groups of Aboriginal peoples of the low plains.
Violations of the rights to land and natural resources by commercial, mining and tourism development are other key challenges that indigenous peoples still face in their own land. In that sense, several indigenous activists have held a sustained protest centred on the rights to land and the return of traditional territories during 2017.
Possible progress for the indigenous peoples of Taiwan
In 2017, the Taiwanese Parliament approved the enactment of the law "Indigenous Language Development Law". This law grants official status to indigenous languages, promotes the teaching and speaking of the mother tongue in indigenous districts, and in those regions with more than 1,500 indigenous inhabitants.
It also guarantees the use of the mother tongue in judicial cases and judicial proceedings, and the right to receive judicial documents and government notifications in their own language.
In September 2017, the Council of the Minister of Indigenous Peoples, Icyang Parod, announced a National Museum of Indigenous Peoples, to be built in 2018 in the Cheng Ching Lake Park area of the city of Kaohsiung in the south of Taiwan The museum is intended to serve the indigenous peoples of southern Taiwan, as well as to become a tourism and research center for Austronesian cultures, promoting links between the indigenous peoples of Taiwan and Southeast Asia.